Elon WBB Phoenix Opens Season Against Bears Saturday in Alumni Gym

Posted by Press Release on November 13, 2015 at 3:44 pm under College | Comments are off for this article

ELON, N.C. – After a strong exhibition win last week, the Elon women’s basketball team officially opens the 2015-16 season on Saturday, Nov. 14, against Lenoir-Rhyne in Alumni Gym in a 2 p.m. tip. Tickets can be purchased through the Elon Ticket Office. Admission is $15 for courtside seats, $8 for reserved seats and $5 for youth (12 and under). Following the game, the team will be signing autographs for all fans.

Last Time Out
Elon downed visiting Winston-Salem State, 70-27, in its only exhibition contest of the season on Sunday. The defense held the Rams to a 25.6 shooting percentage and grabbed 16 steals. The Phoenix won the battle on the boards, 51-36, and held a 17-2 advantage in second-chance points. Jenifer Rhodes led the way for the maroon and gold with a double-double after 12 points (5-of-9) and 10 rebounds. Josepha Mbouma scored 11 points and tallied a game-high six steals, while Shay Burnett finished with nine points, five boards and three assists. Elon saw baskets from 10 of the 12 players that saw action in the game, including 32 points from its bench.

Scouting the Bears
Lenoir-Rhyne was picked to finish sixth out of 12 in the 2015-16 South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Preseason Head Coaches Poll. Junior forward Morgan Cooper was named to the preseason second team and is the Bears’ top returning scorer, averaging 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. LR dropped a tight exhibition contest at Appalachian State last weekend, 51-45, after a game-high 18 points by center Shelly Harper and 11 boards from guard Jordan Hiatt. The Bears finished the game with a 49-36 advantage on the glass but was held to a 28 percent shooting mark from the field.

The Series
Elon and Lenoir-Rhyne have a long history of playing one another in women’s basketball, meeting again for the first time in 14 years last season. The Phoenix leads the series 23-10 and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings. The teams closed out 2014 playing in Alumni Gym on Dec. 31 last season with Elon claiming a 62-46 win.

Looking Ahead
The Phoenix plays its first road game of the season on Monday, Nov. 16, when the team travels to Lynchburg, Va., to take on the Liberty Flames. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in the Vines Center.

Elon in Season Openers
The Phoenix is 28-17 overall in season openers and 20-4 when opening the season in Alumni Gym. Elon has won its last two straight season openers after a 77-72 win over Anderson on Nov. 14, 2014, and a 73-68 victory against Winston-Salem State in 2013. The maroon and gold has won its last six season openers that were played on its home court.

Stop, Thief!
The Elon defense tallied an impressive 16 steals in its exhibition win over Winston-Salem State on Nov. 8. Josepha Mbouma claimed six of those steals followed by three from rookie Nikki McDonald.

Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fifth season with the Phoenix and owns a 69-57 career record. Smith has led Elon to three straight conference tournament semifinal appearances, as well as an at-large bid to the 2015 WNIT, the first in program history, after a 19-13 overall record and 11-7 league mark in its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Home-Court Advantage
Alumni Gym has proven to be a tough place to play for opponents under head coach Charlotte Smith. The Phoenix went 10-5 at home during the 2014-15 season after a 10-4 record during the 2013-14 season. The maroon and gold is 43-15 in Alumni Gym in four seasons under Smith with a winning percentage of 74 percent. The Phoenix has lost no more than five games at home in a season and out scored its opponents 1,001-963 on Robertson Court last year.

Wealth of Experience
Elon returns a very experienced group to the hard wood for the 2015-16 season. The Phoenix returns four of its five starters – Essence Baucom, Shay Burnett, Josepha Mbouma and Jenifer Rhodes – from seven of its last eight games last year, including its WNIT appearance. This year’s team is also made up of nine other experienced players from a year ago with four seniors, two juniors and three sophomores.

Newcomer in Name Only
While Phoenix fans will see junior Maddie McCallie on the court for the first time this season but she is hardly a newcomer. McCallie was inactive last year due to the NCAA’s residence regulations for transfers. While she never saw any minutes in uniform, she was an integral team member at team practices and meetings throughout the 2014-15 season.

Fresh Faces
The Phoenix welcomes two faces to the program this year – Nikki McDonald and Meme Garner. McDonald is a highly touted freshman, who is expected to make an impact on the court for the maroon and gold this season, while Garner, a transfer from Charlotte, will remain inactive during the season due to NCAA transfer regulations.

Preseason Predictions
The Phoenix was selected to finish fourth in the 2015 CAA Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll that was released on Oct. 27. James Madison, the reigning conference tournament champion, was picked to repeat, followed by Drexel and Hofstra. Delaware, William & Mary, UNCW, Towson, College of Charleston and Northeastern were all selected to finish behind Elon.

Preseason Selection
Shay Burnett was the first Elon women’s basketball player to earn CAA preseason honors as she was named to the Preseason All-CAA Second Team. As a rookie a year ago, Burnett averaged a team-high 10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds en route to CAA All-Rookie honors.

Road to the CAA Championship
The 2015 Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Championship will take place in Upper Marlboro, Md., at The Show Place Arena for the sixth straight year. The tournament begins on Wednesday, March 9, and concludes with the championship game on Saturday, March 12. Seeding for the tournament will be finalized on Wednesday, March 2, after all regular-season games have been completed.

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